Strut Zone: Hunting Tough Turkeys

I don't know about you guys, but it's the tough turkeys that get under my skin. They steal your sleep and sometimes seem to evaporate from where they just gobbled. I'm not alone, for sure.

Brian Lovett, veteran wild turkey hunter with decades of experience and multiple Slams to his credit, knows the deal. He hunts a bunch of spring turkey states each season; too many to name here. The expression "no brakes," meaning you don't slow down but only keep going and going, motivates him. Yep that means even chasing tough birds that don't play the game. He's also the author of the new book "Hunting Tough Turkeys" (Stackpole).

Here's what Lovett has to say about difficult gobblers:

ON DOING YOUR HOMEWORK: "School is in session every day in the turkey woods. From the minute you leave your truck until the second legal shooting hours expire, the birds reveal tiny, subtle clues."

ON CALLING: "Scouting, experience, and woodsmanship are paramount. However, if those elements are equal, a superior caller will kill more birds than an average yelper."

ON PRESSURE AND PLACE: "Hard hunting won't chase turkeys away or make them change their home range. True, they may show a preference for another part of their home range--that is, the neighbor's place--but they will continue to use their home range."

ON THE LATE SEASON: "There's another obvious reason why turkeys get tougher as the season progresses. Many of the eager jakes and gobblers are dead. You don't have to kill too many male birds from a specific area to change the scene."

ON THE BIG PICTURE: "No matter how difficult, frustrating, or even maddening turkey hunting gets, you have to enjoy it."

Along the way, Lovett goes into great detail regarding scouting, calling, how hens make toms tougher, field turkeys, rainy- and windy-day gobblers, how hot and cold weather affects turkeys, and so on. He offers practical tactics that might just work the next time you face off against a challenging gobbler. Color photos enhance the deal. His new book will take you back to moments when you dueled with tough birds, and remind you of why it's all good in the turkey woods.

Off-season is reading time. "Hunting Tough Turkeys" is available from Stackpole Books at www.stackpolebooks.com and anywhere fine outdoor titles are sold.